Culture shock meets mission


3 Oct 2014

My mission began around two years ago in the remote town of Wadeye in the Northern Territory.

To get to and from Wadeye you must travel the unsealed Port Keats Road. I am going to start by explaining my journey using the analogy of this road.

The Port Keats Road is long, rough and very unforgiving with its deep dips in unexpected places (placement of these dips change every journey on the road and they can do great damage to your car).

Along the way you can find yourself completely panicked or stuck without reception, hoping for a visit from a Good Samaritan, limping along to the end of the road or coming out the other end remarkably unscathed but, it always leads to a destination at both ends.

The road of life and events along the way here in Wadeye are just like this road. At times I have felt stranded, saved by an unexpected ‘Good Samaritan’ and survived some pretty hairy experiences.

My journey started with me thinking I knew what to expect and actually finding out that my expectations were far from the truth. I have been blessed to have met some amazing ‘Good Samaritans’ along the way.

The locals have shown me a new way to look at spirituality and have such an amazing spiritual connection to the land. You just have to see the look on their faces as they past into their Country to see this. It is something I wish I could bottle and share with others outside of here.

The indigenous spiritual connection is one of uplifting hope, even when we can see them living in such extreme circumstances they can smile and praise our God.

All too often when I have returned home to Melbourne I have been greeted with something along the lines of: “You must be loving it there! I bet you want to stay for a long time. It must be such an adventure!”

I understand where this comes from but the adventure of this journey wore off long ago! Now it is just my life, full of good times shared and struggles; many of them which I am not fully equipped to handle.

It is not the adventure that keeps me going now, it is the problems that the people I know call my ‘Wadeye’ family face, and particular the kids and young people that God has placed on my heart to help. There are of course days when the going is really tough and I wish that I could rip that ‘need to help out of my heart’ but then I realise it is the people here that give me the heart I have and a greater understanding of my place in this world.

I can see that God has my back then- carrying me along the path like in ‘Footprints in the Sand’.

I know when I leave here I will take a fair chunk of Wadeye in my heart. When I return and find the going tough in ‘comfortable’ Melbourne I will only have to think of all the tough, forgiving indigenous locals of this land and know I have nothing to complain about and remember how blessed I really am.

Emily Wardeiner is a second-grade teacher in the remote aboriginal community Wadeye, also known as port Keats.
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